SINGAPORE: Singaporean Rajendran R Kurusamy, who masterminded the conspiracy to fix a Southeast Asian (SEA) Games football match between Timor Leste and Malaysia, was sentenced to four years' jail on Monday (Sep 21).
Deputy Public Prosecutor Nicholas Khoo called Rajendran “Singapore’s most prolific match-fixer in terms of convictions” and noted that the jail term is the “highest sentence imposed on a match-fixer on a single charge”.
Rajendran, 55, pleaded guilty to two charges under the Prevention of Corruption Act. He was handed a 42-month jail term for agreeing to give S$15,000 to the Football Federation of Timor Leste's technical director Orlando Marques Henriques Mendes, in exchange for arranging for his team to lose their match against Malaysia.
The second charge, for which Rajendran was given 48 months’ jail, involved offering S$4,000 each to at least seven Timor Leste players as an inducement to lose the match.
District Judge Hamidah Ibrahim said that the sentences would run concurrently, meaning Rajendran will spend four years behind bars.
The court heard that Rajendran has a history of fixing football matches both in Singapore and Malaysia, including fixing several S-League matches.
Rajendran met accomplice Nasiruddin, an Indonesian national, on several occasions in May 2015, after the latter agreed to help Rajendran in the match-fixing conspiracy. Rajendran told Nasiruddin that if he was able to get information about the Timor Leste team and players, that he would share the profits with Nasiruddin.
Nasiruddin then paid for a former Timor Leste football player, Moises Natalino De Jesus, to travel to Batam. Over there, Moises met Rajendran, who said that he would give a sum of money to the Timor Leste players who could help ensure they lost against Malaysia.
Moises then introduced the men to Orlando, the third co-conspirator and team manager of the Timor Leste SEA Games football team.
The quartet met in Singapore at the Orchid Country Club on May 28. At their meeting, Rajendran agreed to give Orlando S$15,000 to help arrange for the Timor Leste team to lose the match. He also offered each player who helped to lose the game S$4,000 each.
Hours after this meeting, the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB) arrested the four men. The match proceeded on May 30 and ended 1-0 in Malaysia's favour.
'PRIME MOVER' OF CONSPIRACY
DPPs Nicholas Khoo and Stacey Fernandez sought a jail term of 4.5 years for Rajendran, citing the need to deter like-minded individuals and to uphold Singapore’s reputation as a nation with zero tolerance for corruption.
Match-fixing “robs from the participants the glory of true sporting achievement, it denies and viewers from witnessing an authentic spectacle and it distorts the betting markets for illegal gain”, the DPPs said.
The prosecution also noted that Rajendran’s offences were clearly premeditated, calling him the “prime mover” of the conspiracy who played an integral role in arranging meetings both in Singapore and Batam to discuss their roles with his accomplices.
DPPs Khoo and Fernandez also highlighted to the court further aggravating factors: The attempted match-fixing occurred at a high-level sporting event, involved young players from a lesser developed country, and was of a transnational nature. The four men charged over the attempted fix spanned three nationalities, with discussions taking place across two jurisdictions, the court heard.
Rajendran’s lawyer, Mr Edmond Pereira, said that while it is clear that a wrong has been done, the court should not “over emphasise the status of the game”. A 4.5-year jail term would be “unduly harsh” and have a “crushing impact” on his client, Mr Pereira told the court. He suggested that 3.5 years, or between 36 to 42 months, would be “fair and just”, and in excess of what Nasiruddin had received.
Nasiruddin was sentenced to 30 months’ jail in July this year. Meanwhile, Moises and Orlando have been charged, and their cases are still before the courts.